Delhi high court on Wednesday disposed of a plea alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an “incorrect account” of his poll expenditure in Varanasi during 2014 Lok Sabha polls and seeking his disqualification as an MP, saying the EC was seized of the matter.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said, “Just because PM is involved we cannot drag it on” and the Election Commission of India (ECI) being a constitutional body was “seized of the matter”.
“Without going into the controversy raised in the writ petition, it is disposed of,” the court said.
ECI, meanwhile, assured the court that it will take a decision within a reasonable period of time.
The commission also said that election results were declared on May 16, 2014, and the complaint against Modi was first received by it on June 2, 2015, more than a year later.
The petitioners, former Congress MP Rajesh Mishra and another leader Prajapati Nath, had in their plea sought a probe by ECI into their complaint as well as disqualification of Modi as an MP.
The plea, moved in the high court on August 2, had also alleged that the poll panel has been sitting on the complaint against Modi as he is the Prime Minister.
The plea had said that while Modi’s poll expenses return filed with district electoral office, Varanasi, showed his total expenditure to be around Rs 37 lakh only, the actual figure was “far beyond prescribed maximum limit of Rs 70 lakh”.
In their petition, the Congress leaders had contended that Modi was required to maintain and lodge true and correct statement of the account of his election expenditure.
“A perusal of the statement of election expenses filed by the returned candidate, reveals that he has failed to keep separate and correct account of all expenditure in connection with his election and has also not furnished true and correct statement of account of election expenditure, incurred by him in Varanasi Constituency as per law,” it had said.
The Supreme Court today sought response from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and three others on appeals filed against Karnataka High Court order acquitting them in a disproportionate assets case.
A bench comprising justices P C Ghose and R K Agrawal also issued notices to Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala and two of her relatives, V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, and asked them to file their replies within eight weeks.
The Karnataka HC order had on May 11 ruled that the AIADMK supremo’s conviction by the special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law, clearing the decks for her return as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
Karnataka government had, in its appeal against the May 11 verdict, taken the ground that the state government’s prosecuting agency was not made a party before the High court.
The petition, filed through advocate Joseph Aristotle, had also claimed that the High Court erred in computing the disproportionate assets of the AIADMK leader.
The state government in the petition had asked as to whether the High Court had “erred in law” by according the benefit of doubt to Jayalalithaa in pursuance of a Supreme Court judgment holding that an accused can be acquitted if his or her disproportionate assets was to the extent of ten per cent.
It also claimed that the High Court has erred in law in over-ruling the preliminary objections raised by the state government and added that the accused had filed their appeals against conviction without impleading Karnataka as a party.
The special court had last year held Jayalalithaa guilty of corruption and sentenced her to four years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore.
Delhi High Court today refrained from granting any interim stay on advertisements allegedly “glorifying” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP while demonising the Opposition.
“Interim relief sought by the petitioner by way of this writ petition cannot be granted, unless I hear the Centre on what the steps they have taken with regard to the constitution of the three-member implementing body meant to ensure compliance of the Government Advertising (Content Regulation) Guidelines 2014 laid down by the Supreme Court (to check misuse of public money),” Justice V P Vaish said.
The judge also issued notice to the Centre, asking it to file an affidavit within one week and fixed the matter for further hearing on August 3.
The court said it would wait for their response before passing any interim order on the plea filed by NGO Nyayaa Path, which has also sought direction to the Delhi government to immediately withdraw a recent television advertisement and “restrain itself from such type of image building exercise of Arvind Kejriwal”.
The Kejriwal-government had on July 12 come out with an advertisement with tagline ‘Wo pareshaan karte rahein, hum kaam karte rahein’ (they trouble us, but we continue to work).
Referring to the recent advertisement published from Mumbai, the petitioner has sought direction to the Centre, Lt Governor and Delhi Government that its cost be recovered from Kejriwal, who was being glorified by it.
Hearing the oral order of the bench, senior advocate Chetan Sharma, appearing for the NGO, said if the court is not inclined to grant any interim stay, then the petition should be dismissed, because the same will become infructuous once AAP government allocates its funds for further advertisement.
Sharma, had earlier, taken objection to the tagline of the advertisement and asked what does “Wo” (they) mean.
“Is ‘Wo’ referring to the judiciary because some of their leaders are behind bars or does it refer to the opposition or the media, just because the media has now given them a cold shoulder. Now they are using tax payers’ money in issuing advertisements,” he had said.
Centre’s standing counsel Anil Soni told the court that this is a matter of concern and needs to be examined because huge amount of funds are allegedly being allocated for such advertisements.
The petitioner’s counsel had said AAP’s campaign was like what Hitler had done, adding “It’s like feed a hundred lies to public and it will become the truth. Why are advertisements appearing in the newspapers of Mumbai highlighting the issues of Delhi.”
“Is it because they want to expand political campaign for upcoming elections on tax-payers’ money, which is meant for the people of Delhi,” the counsel had contended.
The NGO has claimed that the Delhi government has launched a TV advertisement which was “being telecast on almost all major channels.
It is pertinent to mention that the ad glorifies Kejriwal while demonising other people, which obviously refers to the Opposition party in Delhi, it charged.
“The advertisement is being aired all over the country at the expense of tax payers of Delhi. The advertisement is also in contravention of ratio as laid down by the Supreme Court in judgement dated May 13, 2015,” the NGO said.
The petitioner said the Centre has failed to put in place the three-member body, and taking advantage of the situation, the Delhi government was “constantly violating” the guidelines by repeatedly airing politically-motivated advertisements on TV, newspapers and radio from promoting the party in power (AAP).
The Supreme Court had on May 13, in a historic judgement, held that taxpayers’ money cannot be spent to build “personality cults” of political leaders and had restrained ruling parties from publishing photographs of political leaders or prominent persons in government-funded advertisements.
The apex court had said such photos divert attention from the policy of the government, unnecessarily associate an individual with a government project and pave the way for cultivating a “personality cult”.
The Maharashtra government apprehends that suspected top Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Abu Jundal, an alleged mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, could be assassinated or kidnapped by rivals during his transit from jail to court, the NIA has told a Delhi court.
In an application moved before District Judge Amar Nath, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that Jundal alias Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, who is presently lodged in Arthur Road jail in Mumbai, could not be produced before the court here on several occasions despite issuance of production warrant against him.
NIA had chargesheeted Jundal here for allegedly conspiring to carry out terror activities in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and Aurangabad arms haul case.
In the plea, the agency said the proceedings in the case lodged here was required to be expedited and the trial could be commenced through video conferencing.
Referring to a resolution passed by Maharashtra government in May 2013, the NIA said it “exclude the personal appearance of the accused Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari….after taking into consideration request of Commissioner of Police, Mumbai to exclude the above-mentioned accused person from the personal appearance before court in various cases registered against him due to possibility of assassination bid on the life of accused by rival group or a bid to kidnap.”
The agency also said the resolution was challenged by Jundal before Bombay High Court, but his plea was dismissed.
“By virtue of order passed by state government…and order of divisional bench of Bombay High Court…the jail authority is not producing accused Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari…inspite of the production warrant issued by this court directing jail authority to produce the accused before him to answer the charges levelled,” the NIA application said.
The court has issued notice to Jundal’s counsel M S Khan for July 17 on NIA’s plea.
The court here is scheduled to hear arguments on charges in the case in which NIA has chargesheeted Jundal for offences punishable under the IPC and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly attempting to recruit men through Internet for banned outfit, Lashkar-e-Toiba, and conspiring to carry out terror activities in India.
Jundal is alleged to be one of the masterminds of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in which the lone arrested accused Ajmal Amir Kasab was convicted and hanged. He was alleged to be one of the persons directing the terrorists during the attacks from a so-called ‘control room’ in Pak-occupied Kashmir.
He is also facing trial in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case lodged under the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
In its charge sheet filed against Jundal, NIA had alleged that in and around 2005, Jundal, along with his absconding associate Faiyaz Riyaz Ahmad Kagzi, had joined LeT.
In November 2005, they went to Nepal to meet LeT commander Abdul Aziz and received a three-day training of bomb assembling and IED-making from him, it said.
The NIA had also claimed that on his return to India, Jundal fled to Pakistan via Bangladesh and stayed in Karachi and in the LeT’s headquarters in Muridke.
He did three training courses in LeT training camp and came in contact with LeT top operatives, including its chief Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, NIA had alleged.
The Supreme Court today sought responses from the Centre, the Election Commission and six political parties, including Congress and BJP, on a plea to declare all national and regional political parties “public authorities” to bring them under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
“Issue notice,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattuand justices Arun Kumar Mishra and Amitava Roy said.
The Association for Democratic Reforms, an NGO, has also sought a direction that the political parties be asked to declare all donations, including those below Rs 20,000 also.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, contended that political parties were public authorities and hence amenable to the RTI Act.
The Central Information Commission, in its detailed order, had held that political parties were public authorities and hence should disclose the information under RTI Act.
“Political parties do not have to pay the income tax on the donations and, moreover, the donations below Rs 20,000 are not to be disclosed under the law by them,” the lawyer said, adding that these parties also controlled the legislature and the law-making process.
Earlier, the NGO had approached SC seeking transparency and accountability in functioning of recognised national and regional political parties.
It had claimed that the political parties received huge sums of money in form of donations and contributions from corporates, trusts and individuals but do not disclose complete information about the source of such donations.
In its plea, the NGO had urged the apex court to direct all national and regional parties to mandatorily disclose details about their income as well as expenditure.
It had also sought declaration of entire details of donations and funding received by the political parties, irrespective of the amount donated and details of donors making donations to them and to electoral trusts.
The petition had claimed that political parties enjoyed a stronghold over their elected MPs and MLAs under Schedule 10 of the Constitution that makes it compulsory for members of either Houses of Parliament or state legislatures to abide by the directions of their parties, failing which they stand to be disqualified.
A city court has issued an arrest warrant against Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP Prasun Banerjee for allegedly slapping a constable in January.
Bidhannagar Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate A K Ghosh directed the police to take Banerjee into custody and produce him before his court by July 17.
“Banerjee has been booked under Section 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty),” a senior police officer of the Bidhannagar Commissionerate said today.
The warrant was issued by the court yesterday as the HowrahMP failed to turn up before it on a number of occasions despite notice having been served upon him.
In January, Bidhannagar Police had booked Banerjee for allegedly slapping an on duty traffic constable at Lake Town. The constable had allegedly stopped Banerjee’s car for taking a wrong turn on the busy Lake Town-VIP Road crossing.
Banerjee had denied that he had slapped the constable.
After former Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar, another AAP legislator Bhavna Gaur has come under scanner over her educational qualifications with a Delhi court taking cognisance of a complaint seeking criminal prosecution of the MLA for allegedly furnishing false details in the affidavits for Assembly polls.
Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma admitted the complaint which alleged discrepancies in details related to educational qualifications in her affidavits filed with the Election Commission in last two Assembly polls held here in December 2013 and February 2015.
The development comes less than a month after another AAP MLA Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested and had to resign as law minister over charge of having fake degrees.
Complainant Samarendra Nath Verma has filed the petition under provision of 125 A of the Representation of People Act dealing with penalty for filing false affidavit.
The offence under Section 125A of the Act entails a jail term of up to six months or fine or both.
The court has now fixed the matter for next hearing on July 25. As per the complaint, during the 2013 Assembly polls Gaur, an MLA from Palam constituency, had mentioned her highest qualification as 12th while during the elections held in 2015, she mentioned her highest educational qualification as BA and B.Ed in her affidavit filed along with her nomination paper.
“The complainant failed to understand, how just within a span of 14 months (period between filing of her first affidavit in 2013 and 2015), she obtained additional qualifications of BA and B.Ed., whereas normal time required for finishing the aforesaid courses taken together would be five years (three years for BA and two years for B.Ed.),” the complaint said.
“The accused (Gaur) must have filed false affidavit related to her qualifications either on November 12, 2013, or on January 15, 2015, before the Returning officer in that only one version on oath on her qualifications can be correct,” it said.